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Home > Eden Troupe Directorial Team to Produce The Crucible

Eden Troupe Directorial Team to Produce The Crucible

August 3rd, 2009

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727

Aidan Grano (L) and Stephanie McGill (R), last semester's Eden Troupe directorial team

Patrick Henry College Eden Troupe’s rendition of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night last semester was a minimalist innovation. Set in the modern period, it featured strategic use of color in costumes and set in Eden Troupe's first off-campus performance. This fall Junior Stephanie McGill will be directing Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, a drama set during the Salem Witch Trials, using the same minimalist approach. And McGill, who served as assistant director for senior Aidan Grano in the spring, will team with assistant director Jenna Lorence, a senior, to oversee another off-campus production. Their hope in moving The Crucible off-campus is to maintain momentum in drawing a broader audience from the surrounding community. 

McGill and Lorence are planning auditions for August 23 and 24, as students return for the new school year. They encourage both freshmen and returning students to audition.

The production will be distinct in another respect, marking the first time a PHC student has directed two plays. It will give McGill a great chance to grow as director, says Lorence.

“Before [with Eden Troupe] it was one shot, and then you’re done,” she explains.

The director/assistant director model introduced to Eden Troupe by Grano/McGill and now McGill/Lorence consciously trains a less experienced person toward the status of full director. Earlier models have experimented with individual directors, co-directors, and a director/producer model.

Jenna Lorence (top R) with seniors Lillie Schmidt (top L) and Betsy Sayre (bottom), some of the crew for Twelfth Night, Spring '09

Observes Lorence: “I really wanted to direct The Crucible, but I felt a little uncomfortable launching such an intense project without someone who has more technical experience.”

McGill grew up watching stage plays with her family, and attended drama seminars and studied drama on her own. In so doing, she took it upon herself to study the acting theory of Russian actor and director Constantin Stanislavski, learning the genre of drama as a natural part of her life. When she came to PHC, she was eager to apply her passion hands-on, as Grano’s assistant.

“I find it amazing to have these ideas and then see them coming together on-stage,” she shares.

In the dark drama of The Crucible, both McGill and Lorence intend to emphasize themes of redemption and forgiveness in the life of John Proctor, one of the main characters. Since Arthur Miller wrote his play during the Red Scare of the McCarthy era, most directors usually find it easy to draw a political parallel between the fictionalized Salem Witch Trials of the play and whatever contemporary group in society is facing a perceived persecution. Rather than take that route, however, the Eden Troupe directors are choosing to emphasize the more eternal themes.

“This is a story of how terrible circumstances can bring redemption for one man,” says McGill. “—How everyone is a sinner and needs forgiveness.”

Follow the play's progress on the Fall 2009 production blog (not sponsored by Patrick Henry College).